7th December

Today is Lynne’s Sixtieth Birthday. It is a big day for her. But this morning has to be a working day. So despite not having a good night’s sleep we stick to the plan. A birthday cuppa in bed and then strip it and take it and other laundry down to the Lavanderia for 8 ‘o’ clock. The cuppa included the card I made yesterday afternoon and the perfume bought in Dénia in previous afternoon.

Got back and had breakfast and a bath before heading for town. The supposed market on Friday didn’t happen so we went to the bank to get Peter his cash and then to the Tabacas for the roll-your-own stuff for Alan and David. Next was the shoe mender where we got yet another set of keys cut to the garage for Keith and Audrey and rang Perran about collecting the set we had cut earlier in the week again. (I think we have been ringing the wrong number somewhere along the line, which is why he hadn’t replied. It looks like the phone does not remember the +34 international code on the front of a number when dialled). We then went to Café Dany’s and when on our second round of tea and coffee I worked up the nerve to ask him about about coffee and condensed milk (leche consendada), he called it a bon-bon and smiled brilliantly as he can do. He didn’t serve it with sachet of sugar, and it didn’t need it. Mmm! 🙂 By which time is was time to head for Guadalest and lunch.

It was a nice drive in brilliant sunshinre and temperature of 24C. We stopped at the Farmer’s Co-operative and bought Saffron for the paella, sun dried tomatoes to take home and a couple of lovely looking pomegranates for breakfast tomorrow and Sunday. We had a lovely chat with the guy about his old dog, which was a golden retriever type and stretching and sleeping in the warm sunshine (what bliss). He told us about him being 15 and arthritis and lots of medication. We told him we knew with Be-Bop and how he had passed on and now we had Helmut. A typical lovely Spanish shopping experience. We then stopped at the bag shop on the corner just below La Xorta and Guadalest. Lynne bought a “very useful bag” as the Patron put it and she was given some postcards and a purse as gifts for purchasing a €26 bag. We were about to leave when Lynne needed to make a call, and while she did I spotted a lovely black and red leather patchwork back with a collapsible handle and wheels that was basically a laptop back but with extra space for an overnight bag, perfect for one nighter in London on Govt. projects, like what I am working on now. The Patron knocked it down €2.5 to €30 when we explained we didn’t want to change Lynne’s bag but wanted it as well. We bade him “hasta la primavera” – until the spring. He is always very nice to us but never remembers us, no doubt due to the coach loads that stop at his business all year round.

We were made very welcome at La Xorta and given a window table with a fabulous view down the valley to Altea some 15km away. A little vase of two yellow roses and a pink rose bud were put on our table. As on Sunday, Lynne being “celiaca” is absolutely no problem. She had prawns in avocado followed by cornejo (rabbit) this time in tomatoes and garlic and a side of chips. When Lynne queried them the guy thought it impossible that the chips could have flour in them. They had been potatoes only this morning and mimed peeling them in a way that convinced us that he had done it personally (and he probably had). My starter was also unexpected; I thought eggs with ham (huevo jamon) would be a cold starter but no, it was ham slices on fried eggs, and what fried eggs they were! By comparison my pork steak with rice and peas was quite tame but very tasty nevertheless. When it came to ‘postres’ (pud) Lynne thought she was limited to fruit but the waiter who was brilliant last Sunday and today asked if “milk, gelatine and lemon juice” was okay. This turned out to be what the menu called Lemon Mouse and was the best sweet she had ever had, according to Lynne. My flan (with biscuit in so Lynne couldn’t have it) was quite tame by comparision. We then had tea and coffee, again accompanied by that fabulous Blackberry Liquer. We now suspect they make in themselves as (we learned from ex-Pharmacist, Audrey Wildman) it is possible in Spain to by pure ethyl alcohol, something not possible in the UK. Unfortunately it started to cloud over during our ‘Spanish long lunch’ and that persisted for the rest of the afternoon with the sun occasionally peeking through. I’ll leave it to Lynne to write about Lady Bountiful of East Lothian on the table next to us.

In the end we decided not to go the last few hundred meters into Guadalest but to go back down and into Altea old town. We went down to Calliosa d’en Saria and for a change turned right at the roundabout. This took us to Polop, which we drove around and decided we must go to again, and then onto La Nucia before arriving in the top end of Altea. Our favourite café with the overlook was closed so we tried one of the church square cafés where we felt as welcome as a fart in a space suit. We were given a hand written bill for 50% more than we would expect. Won’t go there again. Had a nice wander around and view of Benidorm in the late afternoon and took photos.

Then we set out back to Calpé. Lynne called Perran about collecting the keys. Lynne also mentioned the Architect’s comment about the citrus trees needing iron rich feed to which Perran responded he had plans for stone circles and enriching the ground with (in essence) worm pooh! He said he or Willy (him of the weather prediction most extra-ordinary) would be round to collect the keys soon after we got home in the next 30 mins. Although we were hoping that Willy would arrive so we could ask if he’d known (like the flamigos) about the storm before it arrived it was Perran with his four year old son and two bags of worm pooh that arrived to collect keys. We showed him how to manage the garage door and asked him to remove the pile of rubbish when he could and send photos of the heavily pruned Olive and Almond trees, “so I can show my mother progress” Lynne said all sweetly.

I got the fire going for later then we set off for evening drinkies. We stopped in Mercadona for mangos and yoghurt to go with the pomegranates. I shouted ‘hola’ to the boss man of our new watering hole as he went in ahead of us and got a smile and an ‘hola’ back. We were stood in the fruit section wondering out loud what the Spanish for mango was when the young man in charge of the section asked in very polite English if he could help. We asked what the Spanish for mango was, only to be very politely told that it was…

“mango” – DOH!

We then went into the Diamonte Beach, the recenlty build very posh looking hotel for a glass of Cava for Lynne. It turned out to be a 1/3rd of a bottle sized bottle and at a very reasonable price, as was my ‘cagne’. It is very nice but full of rich pseuds. We then moved on to our watering hole. We asked about Cava but they were out and none till Lunes (Monday) so it was “rosada y cagna” and the boss man brought a plate with a slice of pan with a slice of sem-curado and a slice of sem-curado and a fork, plus some olive to the table. He points at the bread and says “pan para usted” and points at me, and then points at the cheese and fork and says “sin pan para usted” and points at Lynne. With our next round it was jamon (ham) the same and with the next round it was bacon on pan for me and bacon with fritas patatas (chips) for Lynne, they’ve obviously forgotten what the guy at the bar said about chips being no good because the fry all their battered seafood in the same oil, but its the thought that counts. While we were there we had a call from my Mum to say Happy Birthday and then a text and a call from Francesca to say the same and tell us about the new reformed Helmut that fetches and gives – unbelievable!

We then had a brandy each and tottered home to bed. (After a nightcap of course, or in my case a couple as I was writing this;-). Hasta manana